RJ Practices in Idaho

Some of the restorative justice practices utilized in Idaho include:

*Formal restorative conference – A structured meeting between offenders, victims and both parties’ family and friends, in which they deal with the consequences of the crime or wrongdoing and decide how best to repair the harm. Conferencing is a victim-sensitive, straightforward problem-solving method that demonstrates how citizens can resolve their own problems when provided with a constructive forum to do so. (O’Connell, Wachtel, & Wachtel, 1999)
The restorative conference model most widely used in Idaho by juvenile service providers follows the Real Justice® conferencing guidelines and script.
*Circles – A versatile restorative practice that can be used proactively to develop relationships and build community, or reactively to respond to wrongdoing, conflicts and problems. Circles give people an opportunity to speak and listen to one another in an atmosphere of safety, decorum and equality. The circle process allows people to tell their stories and offer their own perspectives. (Pranis, 2005)
The circle has a wide variety of purposes: conflict resolution, healing, support, decision making, information exchange, and relationship development.
*Family group conference – A family group conference brings together family support networks—parents, children, aunts, uncles, grandparents, neighbors and close family friends—to make important decisions that might otherwise be made by professionals. This process of engaging and empowering families to make decisions and plans for their own family members’ well-being leads to better outcomes, less conflict with professionals, more informal support and improved family functioning.  (Merkel-Holguin, Nixon, & Burford, 2003)
*Restorative community service – Re-shapes the purpose and practice of community service to achieve three restorative goals: accountability, integration, and change. A restorative focus for community service brings an intentional effort to strengthen the social fabric of the community through offenders taking active and meaningful responsibility for the harm caused by their actions, and through engaging the community in working side-by-side with the offenders. Through this direct participation the community plays a key role in providing opportunities for offenders to be integrated into the fabric of the community as positive citizens.
Change takes place in the youth through helping offenders see themselves as valuable, contributing members of the community. Change takes place for the community as it sees young offenders as individuals who are capable of making a positive contribution to the community. And finally, restorative community service helps the community see itself as having a critical role in creating safety and well-being by integrating offenders back into the community.
*Victim panel – Comprised of unrelated victims and offenders linked only by a common kind of crime, not the particular crimes that involved the others. The panel may help bring closure to the victim and to expose offenders to the harms that they have caused by providing an opportunity for the parties to speak about their experiences. (www.restorativejustice.org)
*Mediation – Restorative mediation is a mediation process that uses restorative justice principles to guide the process and measure outcomes. In restorative mediation, the mediator will help the parties acknowledge injustices and wrongs, work to make things right for all sides, and focus on a future without a reoccurrence of the dispute. Rebuilding trust is a paramount objective. Restorative mediation goes beyond just settling a case or resolving a dispute. A successful restorative mediation will reconcile the interests of the parties and will reconcile any underlying injustices. (http://www.mediate.com/)

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